ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – National Small Business Week kicked off Monday, and on Tuesday, Abilene’s Chamber of Commerce honored its small businesses with the 2022 Salute to Small Business luncheon and awards banquet. One new businesses owner called his family-operated business a ‘dream job.’

Small businesses around the Big Country can look quite different, from a small dentist’s office to a hog trapping operation. For Pete Leija, owner of Hitman Hog Trapping, his business fits right into the needs of the Big Country.

With feral hogs running wild across West Texas, his job is to go out, set traps and remove the animals- preventing them from destroying thousands of dollars in farm land.

However, his team isn’t what you would imagine when you think of a hog trapping operation. Attending in support of Leija as he accepted his Small Business Administration Veteran-Owned Small Business of the Year Award, were his wife, two daughters and son’s girlfriend, all who help trap and release hogs with him.

“While I don’t have any employees, I’ve always had my family,” Leija said. “Whether it’s to go put up a trap, pull down a trap or even pull hogs out of a trap… Everybody here has taken part in going out and doing exactly that.”

He said it’s a dream job for him, being able to work outdoors and be with his family. The 32-year military veteran, however, was in shock when they announced his name as the 2022 Veteran Small Business of the Year award.

That’s just one of many success stories seen across Abilene with one common root: Abilenians supporting other Abilenians.

“I saw it,” Regional Administrator for the Small Business Administration (SBA), Ted James, said. “I can feel the energy in Abilene today.”

James said as soon as he stepped foot in Abilene, he knew the support for local businesses was unlike anything he had ever seen, praising the networking done between each of the businesses.

James also said Abilene celebrates their businesses in a much grander fashion than many other cities, noting that kind of support and love for their local small businesses is what keeps Abilene’s economy going strong.